The Atlas of Early Printing

The Fifteenth Century Book

Image of Fifteenth Century Book

1490-1874: Ownership - Marcus Perfumus/Pillone Library

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1490-1500? - Ownership - Marcus Perfumus

The book has a few marginal notes which seem to be in the same hand as an inscription on the verso of the second vellum leaf, "hic liber est mei qui sum Marcus Perfumus." ("This book is mine who is Marcus Perfumus"). The identity of Marcus Perfumus has been lost to history, but he could be the book’s first owner, whose non-Latinized name could be Marco Parfumo or something similar.

1490s-1874 - Ownership - Pillone Library

Image of a Piece of Paper

Sometime between 1490 and 1510 our copy of the book was added to the Pillone Library, a collection of books assembled over a period of about 100 years by two generations of the Pillone family, Antonio and Odorico. The Pillone family (the name is also spelt Piloni and Latinized Pilumnus) lived in Belluno, in a villa at Casteldardo, which was in the foothills of the mountains in the south part of the Belluno valley. In the early 16th century, Belluno formed part of the mainland empire of the Venetian Republic and was very close to Austria, which made for a relatively unstable political environment as it lay on trade routes utilized by Emperor Maximillian’s army.

Antonio Pillone was chiefly interested in the classics, and purchased books from about 1490 to 1510. The Scriptores Historiae Augustae was most likely purchased by him, given its focus on the lives of Roman emperors, was published in 1490, and was bound by a Belluno bindery that bound numerous other books in the Pillone collection.

Image of book binding

The collection of books at the villa in Casteldardo remained there from the late 16th century until the 19th century, "largely untouched." Many of the books have fore-edge paintings by Cesare Vecellio, who was a cousin to the painter Titian, and a friend of the Pillone family. Our book has fore-edge painting, but it appears to be a pattern rather than the more detailed painting of many of the books. It is possible our book once had a more ornate painting and it was removed or damaged.


Next - 1874-1960s: Ownership - Sir Thomas Brooke/
University of Iowa